Sundays are a special day for me, a ritual of renewal, if you will. It's the one day I clean the house, I mean really, really clean it. It's also the day I make the week's bread. I fell out of this last part of the ritual after the birth of my third son, but now that he's almost 3 years old, I find myself carving out time to bring this particular habit back into my life and into our mouths.
Homemade bread has a reputation for being tedious, or complicated...when in reality it is very simple. A few ingredients. An hour of resting. Cook. That's it. No mystery ingredients, no preservatives.
This is my favorite recipe and I always delight in the praise that pours from my family when offered a fresh loaf.
1 cup warm (not hot) water
1.5 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 2 tbsp dried)
3 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp olive oil
Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and "proof" for 10 minutes. It should be foamy and pungent. If not, your yeast is old.
Add flour, salt, oil, herbs and mix until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is too crumbly, add in another 1/4 cup of water, slowly, until it forms a sticky ball. Knead in the walnuts.
Knead by hand (or with a Kitchenaid mixer, using the dough hook, my preferred method) about 10 minutes.
Place in a large bowl that has been thinly coated with oil, and turn the dough so that the oil covers the outside of the dough. Cover with a thin cloth and place in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
After an hour, punch down the dough, place in greased pie pan and let rise another 1 hour.
Cook at 375 for 40 minutes. The top should be browned and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.